Monday, May 17, 2010

Review: Heavy Rain (PS3)

Heavy Rain is a PS3 exclusive that differs from most current video games in that it is better described as an interactive movie or drama than a traditional video game. The game focuses heavily on characters and story, and there is no "game over" like traditional games.

Quick Facts:

Platform: PS3
Genre: Interactive drama
Developer: Quantic Dream
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date (NA): February 23, 2010
Rating: M

I have mixed feelings about Heavy Rain, as will be documented in the next few paragraphs. The game came out back in late February, but I just finally got a chance to play through it now. Overall, I was actually a little disappointed with the game. I've followed the game a lot since well before it was released, so I pretty much knew what I was getting into. So with that in mind, I wouldn't say it was a bad game, but it definitely didn't exceed my expectations from what I had seen like I was hoping it would. The majority of the media reviews were pretty positive, but I would say I'm somewhere more neutral on my feelings towards this game.

On the plus side, the graphics in the cutscenes were amazing, and the story was decent, but I still didn't feel that it was captivating enough for a game that is almost completely based on story and not gameplay. As for the actual non-cutscene gameplay (aka walking around between action-packed cutscenes trying to figure out how to trigger the next one), most of it was awkward and could be boring and confusing at times, and the walking around controls were pretty bad.

Also, on a very negative note, the voice acting was some of the worst I've ever heard in a recent game. Many of the main characters are voiced by French (or other European) people trying to fake American accents, and you can really tell how awful it is at some points. This game is almost completely based on its story and characters and all happens in a present-day American city (Philadelphia, to be precise), so to have the characters have terrible fake American accents really ruined the setting and mood of the game (which is supposed to be very dark). They sound ridiculous. This game is basically an interactive movie, so imagine a movie trying to be serious where most of the cast are French but are pretending to be American and doing really bad accents. Yeah, it would pretty much destroy many of the scenes that are supposed to be serious, and it did the exact same thing in this game.

The story itself wasn't bad. Your actions can determine what happens in the game, and there are many different endings that can be seen depending on what happens in your unique playthrough. Overall though, I have a feeling many of the people got similar endings. Unless you were trying to get your characters killed off on purpose, most of the parts were pretty simple in keeping your person alive and advancing the story in the best possible direction (where everyone survives at the end). The story itself (which I wont mention in detail here) was pretty good for a video game, but like I said before, for a video game that bases itself almost completely on story, it still wasn't amazing. I guess a good way to put it is that even though I liked the story in Heavy Rain, I've played other games with better stories and characters that also had good gameplay to go along with it, which Heavy Rain (for the most part) did not. That basically summarizes my overall feelings towards the majority of the game.

Also, the game isn't very long (it took me around 8-9 hours to beat), so keep that in mind when you see the price tag. A lot of people online say it has great re-playability because you can try to see all the different endings and decisions, but honestly, once I had beaten it I had very little desire to go through it again anytime soon (and I did enjoy it the first time around). I guess that will vary by person though.

With that in mind, there are some good things about the game, and you have to give Quantic Dream and Sony props for trying something new and different in a market that is definitely over-crowded with genres like shooters or RPGs. That is certainly a redeeming quality for Heavy Rain: even though it's only a decent game on its own, it was refreshing to play something different for a change. That's probably the best thing Heavy Rain has going for it.

In Summary:

Pros: decent story, great cutscene graphics, something different than most games

Cons: horrible voice acting, bad non-cutscene gameplay, fairly short game to pay full retail price for

Heavy Rain is best described as an interactive drama that is both innovative and different, but Quantic Dream has a lot of work to do before they perfect the formula that started they with this game (and somewhat with Indigo Prophecy).

Final Score: 3 out of 5

What I'm Playing (5/17/10)

Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Left 4 Dead 2, Halo: Reach Beta, Super Paper Mario.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

What I'm Playing (5/9/10)

Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Halo: Reach Beta, Heavy Rain, and Warcraft III (mostly Dota).